Developing a renewed appreciation for the biblical knowledge through text and type at The Source photography exhibition.
Reading the Holy Scriptures is one thing; to see the places where it all took place is another. In The Source, a photography exhibition presented by the Embassy of Israel, Singapore, at The Arts House from Dec. 8 to 10, Israeli photographer Hanan Isachar captures Israel as the cradle of the world’s three monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, through 30 different sights and sites bearing historical-religious significance. At the same time, he dedicates a significant amount of focus to sites of Christian importance, as the third millennium of Christianity approaches.
As a melting pot of religions fleshed out in the co-existence of mosques and minarets, chapels and spires, synagogues and shrines, the images include shots of Al Aqsa Mosque, the “farthest mosque,” built in the Noble Sanctuary; Haram al-Sharif, the third most sacred place in Islam; the Church of All Nations, also known as the Basilica of the Agnoy in the Garden of Gethsemane; as well as the famed Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
These images will seem almost alien to most Singaporeans who are used to the urban and secular. The sense of the sublimity so absent in cosmopolitan living dominates the imagination in images such as the one of a Greek Orthodox Monastery situated above the Kidron Valley. The dates and the centuries marked tell more than the preservation of relics, as they capture the persistence and endurance of a people’s faith, unchanging even as the centuries drift by.
There was also a video projection showcasing Israel as a secular Jewish state that allows for the freedom of worship, where what is sacred to one religion is sacred to all. It also captures the ministry of non-Jewish affairs regularly conducting interfaith dialogues, and facilitating meetings amongst teens who hold different beliefs.
As a Christian, it was the biblical names and places that spoke to me the loudest. I found my eyes being directed to the captions first before allowing myself to be drawn into the corresponding image, as I mentally reenacted the biblical events. There were beautifully composed shots of the Mount of Olives, the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes, Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle, as well as Via Dolorosa and Golgotha. Many of these images do not feature human figures, allowing for the mind to populate them with historical figures. More than just invoking biblical events, there is also mention of sites associated with the Crusades, reminding me of the bloodshed and conflict which is inseparable from modern-day impressions of Jerusalem and Israel.
|PHOTOS COURTESY OF EMBASSY OF ISREAL, SINGAPORE|
For me, the exhibition was an expression of diversity while reminding Christians of the reality of their faith. At the same time, it whetted my photographic taste buds for fresh subjects and adventure in a foreign land.